In Catholic TV interview, Bernie Sanders praises pope's 'socialism'

by Joshua J. McElwee

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U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders praises Pope Francis in a new video interview with the Canadian Catholic television network Salt + Light, calling the pontiff a socialist like himself and lauding his critique of the global market system.

Sanders, who spoke to the network back in September during the pope's visit to the U.S., also says Francis is having a "profound impact" on people all over the world.

"I think what the pope has done, in a very bold way ... is raise the issue of the worship of money, the idolatry of money, and to say maybe that’s not what human life should be about," says the Democrat. "That is a very, very radical critique of the hyper-capitalist system, world system, that we’re living in today."

"I think that the pope is playing an historical role coming at exactly the right moment in human history, where his voice is having a profound impact, not only on our country, but all over the world," he states.

Sanders speaks in an interview with Basilian Fr. Thomas Rosica, who heads the Canadian network and also assists the Vatican press office with English-language press inquiries. The interview will air for the first time Tuesday evening, and will then be made available on the network's YouTube channel.

Asked by Rosica if he considers the pope a socialist, Sanders replies: "Yes."

"What the pope is saying is that human life, our existence, should be more than just the accumulation of more wealth," says the Democratic candidate. "And everybody knows that right now we have the wealth, we have the technology to provide at least a decent standard of living for all of our people."

"So few should not have so much, and I think that’s what the pope is talking about," he states.

Asked about his support for continuing to legalize abortion, Sanders tells Rosica: "I think this is an area we just have to disagree."

"We will have to simply respect each other, in the sincerity of our beliefs, and I have no doubt about the sincerity of many of the people in my own state, who hold a different point of view than I do," he states.

"What we have tried to do is say, okay, on that issue, and on other issues, we will disagree, but let us work together on those issues where we can agree," he continues.

The Democratic candidate also speaks briefly about his own Jewish faith, saying that knowing he has family members who died in the Holocaust in Poland and Russia has profoundly impacted him.

"I think what I learned as a child ... before I understood politics is what many African-Americans in this country understand is that politics has a huge impact on your lives," states Sanders.

"My family, members of my family, died because of politics, they were killed, in the most horrible way imaginable," he continues. "So that, at a very early age, made me think about the broader issues. And that’s one of the clearly strong influences on my life."

[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR Vatican correspondent. His email address is Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]

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